Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nonexistent and Forbidden Paintings You May Have Missed

Christ Rotting in His Tomb
Supposed Date: c. 1650
Purported Medium: Oil on Canvas

This apocryphal painting supposedly depicts the Savior entering a near liquid state of putrefaction sometime after the crucifixion. The artist’s blasphemous Gnostic conceit was supposedly that rather than having made a positive discovery of Jesus' triumphant ressurection and the salvation of mankind, the apostles simply neglected to find Jesus’ corpse, which remained in the tomb the whole time. The expressions of nightmarish dismay and outright nausea on the part of Mary and Joseph were described as inappropriately comical and grotesque. Christ himself is to have been depicted with derogatory and disgusting detail, his swollen belly having apparently exploded just prior to his discovery.

This purported abomination is a frequent inclusion in the list of suppressed and forbidden paintings supposedly in the vaults of the Vatican. It goes without saying that no such collection exists (for what purpose could it serve?) and certainly not any such blasphemous composition, whose existence is most likely the fabrication of Satanists and Protestants.

The Three Muses of the Depraved Arts
Not Given
Supposed Date:
Purported Medium: Oil on Canvas

This indescribably filthy painting has hopefully been destroyed, if, indeed, it ever existed: the censored descriptions cannot be repeated here. The “three muses” depicted are described as the very inversions of every possible classical canon of beauty, proportion and even humanness in all it’s nakedness, and so grossly engaged in the venereal and bestial practices that they are the allegories of, that scholars of the perverse and abnormal are highly at odds to say what exactly the depraved arts supposedly depicted actually were supposed to be. This has led to much unpleasant speculation, obscenity, criminality and suicide, as so minded initiates of such things have attempted to recreate the unnatural and hallucinatory things allegedly depicted in the hopes of coming to know what they three depraved arts actually are. The accounts of the third figure, in particular, has sponsored some dreadful flights of fancy and at least one series of shocking domestic crimes.

The story of such a painting most likely originates in the unsavory company of art dealers specializing in the forbidden and profane. Whether goaded into such grotesque and septic rhapsodies by an overdose of laudanum, or by the natural ravages of the spirochete, the subject of “The Three Muses of the Depraved Arts” was probably an occasion for lurid and pornographic improvisation, or a faithful account of delirium tremens.

Very little is said about the purported artist except that he was supposed to be one of the last such offending figures to be mercifully and appropriately dealt with in the last acts of the Inquisition, a melodramatic detail, making the whole incredibly unlikely.

The Dragon (Ben-Levi in his study)
Supposed Date: ca. 1528
Purported Medium: Oil on Panel

This spurious alleged painting actually made it into an early edition of Bellum’s:

This painting is, for the most part, unobjectionable, save that it’s subject is the questionable occult scholar Ben-Levi, called Archimagus. Though Ben-Levi’s contributions in many legitimate fields of scholarship are unquestioned, his occult work is justly proscribed and his murder by a family of identical gypsies a boon to mankind and Christendom. The painting is poorly executed; it is believed that the figure in the left corner is a poor rendering of the industrious beaver and not an anomalous monotreme platypus as some have claimed. In addition to poor draftsmanship, the painting also suffers from illiteracy, as many of the conspicuous titles of the books displayed are grossly misspelled and nonsensical (“ignotius per ignotium” for “ignotum per ignotius”).

No doubt the fabrication of the existence of this painting comes out the desire for some representation of Ben-Levi, about whom little certain is known, and who various texts are merely attributed to. The particular mania for this painting can be attributed to Roman Ruiz, contributor to the discontinued journal Fiat Lux. Upon coming upon a detailed description of the supposed painting, after puzzling over it for a sleepless night, Ruiz became convinced that the misspellings were deliberate as the whole the titles were as series of anagrams, or some other such code.

Unfortunately, Ruiz’s attempts to actually acquire the painting and unravel the code seem to have signaled some personal decision on that poor author’s part to sink even lower than his previous researches had guided him. Prison and destitution soon followed, and it is in this light, the penury and regular addictive and dipsomaniacal needs, that we view his sad, last fraudulent claims to have found the painting at last, offering to show it to his former editors for a few hundred sou.

Ruiz claimed to have solved the riddle of the painting, but in reality, he had slid into madness, often referring to it as though it were a living thing and making up ludicrous excuses of why (the hundred sous having been paid) the painting could not now be seen (“it ran away”; “it’s with a lady”; “it’s in my father’s house.”).

Whether or not the pitable Ruiz was responsible for the arson that consumed him, it is that cleansing fire that has given an aura of intrigue an interest to a story with very little basis in fact, but only too much in human frailty.

Subsequent editions of Bellum’s correct this error.

Self-Portrait in the Dreams of the Minotaur
Jacques Debierue
Supposed Date: 1910, 1920
Purported Medium: Unknown

A spurious legend circulates around art history undergrads that there exists a supremely phantasmagoric decadent symbolist painting that functions as a kind of Ur-painting for the history of Surrealism, and, by extension, Modern Art. Its creator is supposedly some mysterious Montevidian, who arranges a private showing, so the legend goes, with this or that Surrealist, or combination thereof, immediately prior to the Armory show, or some other historical turning point. In every telling, however, the doubtful protean painter arranges to meet the Surrealist the following night to show him a still more modern work and introduce him to his model. The following night at their rendez-vous the Surrealist always discovers a scene of some disorder with a conspicuous number of hard-boiled eggs and the apparently suicided corpse of the artist, the methods of death varying according to account, but invariably quite lurid and complicated, often involving some mechanism for sawing off one’s own head.

The Surrealist who is supposed to have glimpsed this originary painting varies with the telling, but it is usually told as one or more than the following: Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst, Andre Breton or Salvador Dali. Schwitters supposedly looked at the wrong side, De Chirico from the side and Ernst from behind De Chirico. Duchamp is supposed to have seen the whole from the front and laughed, but only through cracked glasses. Breton never saw the painting at all, but claimed that he did. Breton told Dali about the painting and supposedly the latter went mad.

The supposition of this missing painting is highly unnecessary, for the history of Surrealism is well-established, documented and known in the present, whose scholarship is able, without an evolutionary gap, to fully trace, detail and explain the development of Surrealist art. The legend is probably promulgated by mischievous TA’s disillusioned by their programs to deceive undergrads and no scholarly authority takes it seriously. The absence of any of the Dadaists from the anecdote, suggests, if anything, the whole event may be, if anything, some sort of Dadaist joke.

TURN #99: WEEK 85; WORDS: 97,582 NEXT BY 7 FEBRUARY 2007